Tuesday, February 01, 2011

For Writers - Reasons for Not Quitting with Joanne Levy

Shhhh.... Today is another snow day and the kids are sleeping in. The longer they sleep, the more uninterrupted writing time I have.

I'm happy to welcome - very quietly - online pal Joanne Levy to the blog... and to congratulate her on her recent sale, SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE to Bloomsbury Kids! **Soundlessly happy dancing!**

Here's the book blurb:

Lilah Bloom is just an average twelve year old. Or she was, until her regular life becomes not-so-regular when she gets hit by lightning and can suddenly hear dead people. Alienating the school's popular girl, helping her dead grandmother find her divorced Dad a new wife and saving the grade eight fashion show were not items on Lilah's seventh grade to-do list, but these are just some of the things she has to deal with now that she’s a medium. Oy!

And here's her bio:

Joanne Levy’s love of books began at a very early age. Being the youngest and the only female among four children, she was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book.

After much teenage misadventure, Joanne eventually graduated from university and now spends her weekdays as an executive assistant at one of Canada’s big banks planning meetings and thwarting coffee emergencies. When Joanne isn’t working, she can usually be found at her computer, channeling her younger self into books.

Joanne still lives in Ontario with her husband and kids of the furred and feathered variety. You can follow Joanne on Twitter or find her on Facebook.

Joanne says:

"First off, I want to start with a big thank you to Linda for having me here. I met Linda for the first time a few years ago when I was in New York City for the Backspace Writers Conference. I knew that while I was in town, a group of authors was doing a signing at the amazing Books of Wonder bookstore, so I made a point of going. I had ‘met’ a few of the authors—including Linda—online through the Backspace member forum (sa membership I highly recommend – trust me, this resource is well worth the nominal membership fee). Anyway, Linda was at the signing and the conference as well and although we didn’t have a ton of time to chat, I saw right away that she is a great person and a generous soul who looks for ways to help other writers. Of course, you, as a reader of her awesome blog, already know this, but I wanted to say it anyway. Linda – you are amazing! (Note from Linda: *sniff* Aw, thanks, Joanne!)

Okay, so I’m here to talk about perseverance. I sometimes call it stubbornness, but whatever you want to call it, it means sticking with it no matter how hard it gets.

I can’t remember exactly when I started seriously writing for publication, but it was a long time ago—like over a decade. I sent out my first query letter in summer 2003 for my third completed novel. I signed with my first agent (on a different book) in fall of 2004. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of my hard knocks lesson on ‘things can take a very long time in publishing’. I have been close a few times and have written a lot of books (16 complete novels to date) but it wasn’t until just last week that I finally got my first book deal. I have tried to tally up how many rejections I’ve gotten over the years from both agents and editors, but I stopped counting after it began to get a bit painful. I will tell you this, though, it’s over a thousand. That was not a typo: over a thousand.

You might be sitting there shaking your head, thinking, “Joanne? How could you possibly keep going after all that? Why didn’t you just quit?” I’ve often asked myself those questions and after a lot of thought, I’ve put my answers down in writing.

I call this list Joanne’s reasons for not quitting (despite wanting to, many, many times).

  1. I’m extremely stubborn and refuse to be denied something I really want. I also refuse to fail for lack of trying hard enough. I decided a long time ago that I really want to be published, so I just kept trying. I’ve never been the kind of person who waits around for stuff to just fall into my lap, so I kept writing and submitting and writing and submitting (and waiting and waiting and gnashing my teeth) and writing and submitting. I figure if I’m breathing, I can still try.
  2. I’ve never taken rejections personally. If someone rejects my work, they are rejecting my work. Not me. A rejection is merely a decline to take on your work; it is not a judgment on you as a human. Log the rejection and move on.
  3. My support group

a. My husband. He is the number one cheerleader in my life and if I ever did quit, I would feel like I let him down (even though he is behind me 100%, no matter what I decide, even if that means quitting). I never, ever want to feel like I let him down. Ever.

b. I made a lot, and I mean A LOT of awesome friends along the way. My tremendous support group of friends has been integral in keeping me sane over the years. I mean it when I say I couldn’t have made it this far without them. They have held me up when I was buckling under the feelings of complete failure, and have now danced with me when the good news finally came.

  1. I mostly write to entertain myself, because why else bother?
  2. I try to remember to take great pride in even the smallest successes like finishing a manuscript or making myself laugh when re-reading through a draft. This is a tough business. Really tough, and not for the faint-hearted, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t small joys along the way. Publication is not the only measure of success.

So now that I’ve officially done it and will be published, I guess can say it’s all paid off and I’m pretty darn thankful I didn’t quit after all. But I’m not done—I don’t just want to publish one book--I want to have a long career publishing many books. But I’ll get there. Because it’s something I really want and I’m still breathing."

This Week's Link roundup:


Layering Fiction (Writer Unboxed)

Creating Character Arcs (The Other Side of the Story)

Evolving Characters (Plot to Punctuation)

Characters in Denial (Kidlit.com)

Sensory Details (Quips and Tips)

13 Ways of Beginning a Novel (Beyond the Margins)

Read What You Write (Wordplay)

The Heroism of Revision (Editorial Anonymous)

How to Untangle a Plot (Alan Rinzler)

Don't be Fooled by Bad Writing Advice (Writer Unboxed)


Queries and American Idol (The Sharp Angle)

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Queried (Some Things I Think)

Querying the Cliche (Query Tracker)

How to Sub Queries & Fulls in the Digital Age (Jill Corcoran)

Why Did I Get Rejected? (Write Anything)

Writing & Writers:

Am I A Writer Yet? (Misanthropology 101)

3 Traits of an Author (Write to Done)

A Post For Procrastinators (YA Highway)

Find and Replace (Julie Musil) Short and excellent post.

Workshop announcement: FYI: Registration is now open for the online workshop I'll be teaching for Carolina Writers next month - Nancy Drew to You - Writing Mysteries for YA. Information about the workshop can be found here.

Now go! Write!